The Top Five Must-Read Personal Finance Books

Blogs and podcasts are a great resource, but don’t forget about the power of a good book! Ruth The Happy Saver shares her top five personal finances reads that you can turn to for some money management wisdom.

Although I learn a heck of a lot about finances and money via blogs and podcasts, I also credit my understanding of good money management with some fantastic personal finance books.

I like a good finance book more than most, and I might not be picky about what I read, but I’m selective about what books I keep. Only the best books, the ones that I’ve enjoyed and learned something from, earn a place on my bookshelf.

What do I look for in a good personal finance book?

  • Has it been recommended to me more than once?
  • Will this book send me to sleep? Finance books are often far too long, which makes them dull. After much trial and error, I’ve found that I fail to learn if a book has literally sent me to sleep!
  • Will I learn something? There is a difference between learning something brand new and reacquainting myself with something I already know. I’m okay with both, it’s good to learn new knowledge, but it’s also good to have your previous knowledge represented differently.
  • Could I explain the concepts of the book in a simple way to someone else? Overly complicated books on money have no place on my bookshelf.

And with that, here are my top five finance books for beginners and experts alike!

1. The Richest Man in Babylon, by George S. Clason

The Richest Man in Babylon, by George S. Clason

It has a bold claim on the front cover: “The success secrets of the ancients – the most inspiring book on wealth ever written.” In my view, it stands up to the hype.

First published in 1926, it is based on parables from the 8,000-year-old city of Babylon. It’s a weird read, and it takes time to settle into it because of its old-world language, such as “budget then thy necessary expenses.” But I encourage you to stick with it because what this short book does is teach you the basics of good money management that apply to everyone, no matter your unique situation. It’s a book that I’ve re-read many times because of its common sense advice.

2. The Simple Path to Wealth, by JL Collins

The Simple Path to Wealth, by JL Collins

I was sorely tempted to recommend this book as #1, but you first need to read The Richest Man in Babylon to understand how money works in its entirety. Then you can niche down into what is without a doubt the book I recommend the most because for those wanting to learn about investing, this goes straight to the good stuff.

Published in 2016, American blogger JL Collins wrote it for his daughter, who has zero interest in learning about investing. Still, she did want to become wealthy in the most straightforward way possible.

When I was on my journey to understand how and what to invest in, it was pure good fortune that I stumbled upon this book where in the most comprehensive yet simple way possible, he explains how index fund investing works.

I often say that once I read this book and listened to him interviewed about his book on various podcasts that my investing path was set, and I’ve never looked back. If you’re keen for more detail, check out my in-depth review of The Simple Path to Wealth.

3. Everyday Millionaires, by Chris Hogan

Everyday Millionaires, by Chris Hogan

Chris Hogan studied 10,000 American millionaires to discover how they built their wealth and documented his findings in this easy-to-read book. He found that you don’t need to inherit money, nor do you need a high-paying job; it’s about what you do with the income that you do make. And the best thing? Any one of us can repeat the success of others, something I find highly motivating. As the title suggests, nothing is stopping the everyday person from building wealth and becoming a millionaire.

For a deeper dive, check out my in-depth review of Everyday Millionaires.

4. The Barefoot Investor, by Scott Pape

The Barefoot Investor, by Scott Pape

My own copy is looking very well worn, which is the sign of a good money book. More people than I can count have mentioned that this book has led to a transformation in how they handle money, either as an individual or as a family. The book sets out a step-by-step guide for where to start and what to do. Scott Pape has such a friendly way about him, so his writing is engaging, helpful and he makes you want to take action! He’s also written a family edition to help you teach your kids the value of a buck.

Read my in-depth review of The Barefoot Investor here.

5. Playing With FIRE, by Scott Rieckens

Playing With FIRE, by Scott Rieckens

I liked both the book and the documentary of the same name because this young couple discovered that freedom and happiness could only temporarily be found in consumer goods, yet the debt hangover is long-lasting.

Scott convinced his wife Taylor and their small daughter to give up the beachside lifestyle that they simply could not afford to instead embark on a journey to find the one thing that money can’t buy, a simple yet happy life.

For many, this book will be the first introduction to the Financial Independence, Retire Early (FIRE) ethos, and the fact that you can retire from your work extremely early in life if you lay the financial groundwork first. Read my in-depth review of Playing with FIRE here.

These are the five best personal finance books that I have received a lot of value from, which is why I think they are a must-read for you. My copies are dog-eared and well-traveled as I regularly share them with others. I search second-hand stores, my local library, and I shop online to track them down, and I’m sure there are more out there that I’m yet to discover, so get in touch if you have any suggestions!

While we’ve linked to where you can purchase these books, it’s worth noting that your local library may stock these titles, so you might want to try there first!

Ruth blogs at all about how she and her family handle money. What’s the secret? Spend less than you earn, invest the difference, avoid debt and budget each dollar that flows through your hands. She firmly believes that if you can just get the basics right, life becomes easier from there on in.

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